Friday, October 29, 2010

Giants Fever

It seems the whole city has got Giants fever. Last night there were Giants hats and jerseys everywhere you looked, and after the victory over the Rangers, you could hear people cheering and car horns honking all over town. I got really excited this morning when I noticed that even the guy collecting trash on the side of the highway was wearing Giants orange, until I remembered he was just wearing the Caltrans uniform that's issued to people who have to perform community service. Oh well, at least for today that guy can pretend that he's wearing the orange vest and hard hat not because he got caught drunk driving, but to show his team spirit.

This outfit was meant to have a mod look, but ended up being something else entirely. I like how it turned out though; the shaping of the top works really well with the skirt, and the bright colors counteract the pirate vibe that would ordinarily come across with the combination of the military-styled jacket and cuffed boots. Not that a pirate vibe is a bad thing; in fact, I might try to play that up a little the next time.

In other news, check out this high-larious video of a Dallas reporter at last night's game, in which he flips out because he smells someone smoking weed at the ballpark. Do people really not know that smoking pot in public is not a big deal in SF? And here I thought we had a reputation for it!

Bonus shots of Georgie photobombing me:
The dog's laziness knows no bounds. First she walked right into the photo and couldn't even be arsed to sit up straight (she's actually leaning against my leg), and then she just slid on down to the floor and laid down. I'm surprised she didn't just take a nap right there.

Jacket: F21
Shirt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: Anthropologie
Boots: Modern Vintage

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I got the idea for this outfit when I was shooting some photos for the shop; it was inspired by the way the harness was styled on the male model in our Auxiliary Magazine feature. The model's outfit in the photo shoot had a military vibe to it that made the harness look very rugged and utilitarian. I thought I could approximate the look by wearing this lightweight jacket as a shirt, and then just for fun I added the tie to fill in the neckline.

The harness is another one that I shamelessly stole from Mark's stash; I saw it there in the finished pile and figured I'd better claim it for my own before someone ordered one in that size. This is the Jane Doe style, and is actually the first black harness I've added to my growing collection.

One of my coworkers told me I looked French in this outfit, which disappointed me a little; I thought I was channeling more of a Fidel Castro look.

Hat: ADS Hats
Harness: Audra Jean
Jacket: thrifted
Skirt: thrifted, shortened
Boots: All Black

I'm pretty sure I've never seen Fidel Castro sporting either 
polka dots or a miniskirt, and that's sort of a shame. 
You only live once, Fidel!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Relaxed Suit

Sal wrote recently about this season's thriftable trends, and mentioned velvet as one of them. And what did I find during my most recent thrifting experience? This cropped velvet waistcoat by J. Crew (coincidentally, the shirt is also a thrifted J. Crew find). To me this is a great way to wear velvet -- I'm not so keen on a whole dress made out of the stuff (not since the 80's, anyway), but a waistcoat or blazer adds that soft texture and sheen without dominating the outfit. I totally forgot to photograph the adorable back of the waistcoat, but I'll show it to you the next time.

The waistcoat is a deep chocolate brown, which is more apparent in the detail shot. The back is a striped yellow, black and brown silk, the sort of pattern you might find on a man's tie or lining a suit jacket. The mixture of the menswear shape and back of the vest with the feminine texture of the velvet gave me the idea to pair it with trousers and the casual waffle-weave shirt in order to give the outfit the appearance of a relaxed suit. Instead of an actual tie, I added the scarf and let it hang straight down the center just as a tie would do. If it were a little less bulky I'd have tucked it under the waistcoat, but I didn't want to look like I have a beer gut.

By the way, I tied the scarf using the first technique I demonstrated in my video tutorial.

Shirt, waistcoat: thrifted
Scarf: Banana Republic
Pants: Anthropologie
Boots: Bronx

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rightful Place

By this time it had gotten so hot and sunny in our apartment that I had to move one of the photos out of the window, lest it start to buckle and bleach out in the sun. The photo is of my mom in high school -- she's normally just over my right shoulder, but now you can just barely see her peeking through the bookcase door behind my left elbow. Don't worry mom, you'll be back in your rightful place soon!

After the last time I wore these shoes, I stretched them a little more and they got even more comfortable. In between wearings, I plan on keeping the stretchers in there until the shoes are fully broken in with their new wider width, otherwise I fear they might shrink back a little. I definitely noticed the difference between the first round of stretching and the second, so if you're planning on doing any significant amount of stretching on your shoes, keep in mind that it may take more than one try. Another trick is to apply the stretching spray before you wear the shoes, as the heat from your feet will also stretch them a little as you wear them; the spray will help them conform to the shape of your foot.

I love oxfords and am very glad I bought this pair, but to me it sometimes seems that they're only ever used to create very sweet and somewhat twee outfits, so I added the harness to toughen up the look and give it an edge.  

Shirt: a gift from mom
Harness: Audra Jean
Shorts: White House Black Market
Shoes: All Saints

Monday, October 25, 2010

Machine Gun Bikini

Ah, memories... these pictures were obviously taken when it was still really hot here. It's actually pretty nice today, but it rained like hell all weekend long, so our little summer is definitely over. It was a good weekend for getting things done though, and a GREAT weekend for sports -- I can't believe it, but our San Francisco Giants are going to the World Series! I can't even yet dare to hope for the outcome of the series itself, but the fact that they made it is wonderful.

Also, sorry Yankees fans (if indeed there are any -- everyone I know just loves to hate them), but holy hell am I glad they got defeated! I'm not sure I could stomach seeing them in the World Series again. Take a few years off, okay guys? It's nice to see other teams make it to the finals once in awhile, and the Texas Rangers have more than waited their turn.

Much of the weekend was spent inside working on creative projects, so if you check the Etsy shop you'll see lots of new stuff there. I've got several new hats up, and Mark created a listing for an elaborate custom piece that he did for a customer's Halloween costume; it's the machine gun bikini harness from Lady Gaga's Alejandro video. Originally it was going to be a one-off sort of creation, but it turned out so well that Mark decided to list it in case anyone else is looking for one. Hey, in this town you never know -- it might be too late for Halloween, but in San Francisco I'll bet you could find dozens of events during the whole year where you could wear a little number like this.

 The harness is hot for sure, but this Dorothy Hamill 
hairdo is not Gaga's best look.

Shirt: All Saints
Skirt: Anthropologie
Jewelry: Betsy Johnson
Shoes: Cydwoq

Friday, October 22, 2010

Softly Sculpted

This is one of my only pairs of shoes that is truly comfortable to wear without socks or tights. The ones I showed yesterday are adorable but make the balls of my feet burn by the end of the day. The Bobbi Blu's I showed the day before rub the sides of my toes and scrape the backs of my ankles. But these softly sculpted little flats make me feel like I'm padding along in slippers, even when it's scorching hot outside and my feet are sticky from sweating. They don't get a ton of wear at work, but they're certainly one of my go-to weekend pairs.

This top is strapless, which means it pretty much always gets worn with something else over it. For our sizzling weather I kept it light and cool with the thin jersey vest. The top is a great way to bridge brown and black together, since it contains a little of both. The light brown vest kept the look summery and soft, while the black skirt and belt punched up the contrast and helped define my figure.

Top: Mica
Vest: F21
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: thrifted
Shoes: Cydwoq

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Whiter Than Sour Cream

Yes, it has been warm here indeed ; I never thought I'd be able to wear this dress to work. I bought it last year to wear for our holiday trip to Mexico; it was my New year's Eve dress, in fact. But it's clearly a sundress, and layering it up with tights and a thick sweater just wouldn't feel or look right, so it has been lingering in the back of my closet, just waiting for the next tropical vacation. When it hit 100 at home and in the 90's at work, I knew it was time to pull it out.

This outfit sort of cracked me up because it made my already pale skin look exceptionally white. Now don't get me wrong; I work hard to maintain my fair complexion because it's better for my skin and in fact I think it looks more natural, but there's still something incongruous about a splashy bright sundress next to a ghostly, washed-out complexion.

The extreme pallor of my skin that day got me thinking about Weird Al Yankovic's hilarious parody of the Chamillionaire song, "Dirty," and the equally hilarious video which, if you haven't seen, is well worth a view (check it out below). In my opinion if you're a musician, you really know you've hit the big time when Weird Al parodies one of your songs. What I can't quite figure out though, is what it means for an artist when Weird Al's version is actually better than the original? In this case the original is not bad, but another rap song about crooked cops? Yawn. On the other hand, when has anyone ever rapped about being so nerdy that you speak fluent Klingon, and edit Wikipedia? Plus, Chamillionaire is just a flat out stupid name. Weird Al gets my vote on this one, especially since I'm white and nerdy myself.

Dress: Plenty by Tracy Reese (via Gilt)
Cardigan: Anthropologie
Shoes: Fly London

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anything But Ordinary

I've worn this combination of top and vest a few times now, mainly on weekends when I want a comfy but interesting jeans-based outfit. On weekends I've worn it with more casual indigo jeans and left the vest loose and open, but here I decided to dress it up with black jeans and the gunmetal harness.

Speaking of which, a few people have inquired about this particular harness. As you may recall, I described a few weeks ago how the leather is hard to find and a bit tricky to work with, which is why we don't currently have anything in this leather listed in the shop. But Mark does still have a small amount of it left and can do custom orders on request. The style I'm wearing here is the Ryder, and we've also made the Aria in this finish, but I also think it would look beautiful for a Willow, a Raven, or a Jane Doe. So far we still haven't been able to find any more of this leather, so when it's gone it's gone.

Anyhow, I loved all the striking black and white patterns in this outfit, and how the shoes even have a stripe pattern and silvery jewels that echo the finish of the harness. Which just goes to show that even the classic combination of black and white can be anything but ordinary.

Shirt: Max Studio
Vest: F21
Harness: Audra Jean
Jeans: Diesel (via Gilt)
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Splash of Mustard

This was my take on Clare's adorable outfit from a few weeks ago, which I liked so much that I copied, albeit with a few necessary changes. The dress is really thin to the point of being see-through, so I added the gray skirt underneath for opacity. The dress also has an empire waist, which makes it impossible to belt at the natural waist. However, putting a layer over it and belting over that does the trick, so whereas Clare wore her top layer open with the dress belted underneath, I belted my outfit on the topmost layer. Finally, I chose  sandals instead of cropped boots because I'd been wanting to try out a socks-with-sandals look.

I liked this look (thanks, Clare!); the soft jersey layers were really comfortable and I thought the splash of mustard yellow at the neckline made the outfit a lot more interesting than if it was just a mix of neutrals. The socks/sandals combo worked like a charm for keeping my feet blister-free and still staying cool. After this I was inspired to buy some more ankle socks, but of course it had started to cool down by the time they arrived in the mail. It's just like when I wash my car (which, admittedly, isn't very often); it's guaranteed to bring rain.

On a marginally-related side note, I have a real problem typing the word "sandals;" even when I concentrate it always seems to come out as "sandlas" on the first pass. Can fingers be dyslexic?

Cardigan: All Saints
Shirt: H&M
Dress: Lady Language
Skirt: S
Sandals: John Fluevog

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hot Chip

Oops... I was out a bit late last night and am just too wiped out for an outfit post today. Last night was a special Sunday night Girls' Night Out; Laura and I went to see Hot Chip at the Warfield Theater. And let me tell you, that was one amazing show! It's not often you see San Franciscans dancing at a show, but Hot Chip had the whole house shakin.' Their recorded music is great, but nothing compares to the energy of their live show. Hot Chip have several more US dates left on their current tour, including Denver, St. Paul, and Chicago. Don't miss them!

In other news, City Hall is currently lit up in orange to celebrate the Giants becoming the National League West champions. How cool is that?

It also looks perfect for Halloween. But then again, City Hall always has great style.

Friday, October 15, 2010


I wasn't too happy with this outfit. I wanted to wear a bright shade of green with this blue dress, and the skirt was really the best option I could come up with. It looked fine to me at first, but each time I caught my reflection I liked the proportions less and less. Part of the problem was that it was too warm for tights and heels, which would've been less leg-shortening than leggings.

The other problem is that the fabric of the dress is starting to look a bit shabby and worn out, and the seams don't quite press out flat anymore when I iron it. For a $15 dress it has served me well, but I think it's finally time to bid this old friend adieu. I've worn this dress well over a dozen times; below are a few of my favorite ways I've styled it.

Dress: Forever 21
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Skirt: thrifted
Leggings: Foot Traffic
Shoes: Bobbi Blu

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Raising the Vamp

I liked this outfit a lot; I thought the subtle polka dots added a lot of interest to the all-dark color scheme, and everything was soft, stretchy, and completely comfortable. I've also worked on these boots a little more since putting the Foot Petals in; awhile back I finally got a good quality boot stretcher because I have several pairs that are tight across the top of my foot, especially on my slightly larger right foot.

Stretching boots follows pretty much the same process as stretching shoes, only you need a different kind of stretcher for increasing the width versus the kind I got for raising the vamp. The stretchers themselves are also a good deal more expensive, so I just bought one and resolved to be patient while I stretched each pair one boot at a time. But after years of owning these boots and wearing them relatively little, I've finally managed to fix all their comfort issues and am excited to get more use out of them.

Dress: from local boutique Ruby
Tank top, vest: F21
Obi belt: Audra Jean
Skirt: thrifted
Boots: from Scoop in Copenhagen

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Knot Necessary

I thought of Une Femme when I wore this outfit, since it was she who originally clued me in to this type of scarf ring; not to mention the fact that the scarf ring itself has a fleur de lis on it. I found it in a touristy shop in Buenos Aires, of all places; had it not been for one of Une Femme's foulard de la semaine posts, I wouldn't have even known what it was. It worked perfectly to secure this oversized square scarf into a loose, casual shape; I just criss-crossed the ends through the ring and voila! Tying it was, if you'll pardon the pun, knot necessary.

I borrowed this strapless-dress-over-shirt look from Sheila. Actually the dress is not a dress at all but a skirt; everything from the bottom edge of the belt on up is actually the waistband, which is meant to be folded over. But I've never really been able to wear the skirt that way and so I often unfold it and hike the whole thing up. Here I've layered it with another skirt and belted everything to keep the layers in place. These skirts have often appeared together; you can see some other variations on this pairing here, here, here, and layered in the reverse order here.

T-shirt: H&M
Scarf: a gift brought back from China
Gray skirt: S
Teal skirt: LA Made
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Shoes: Tsubo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Socks and Sandals

This outfit was inspired by Sal, who wore a similar blend of muted colors a couple weeks ago. This was one of those days when it was colder and windier in my work city than it was in my home city, or else I would've also copied Sal's cute short socks with my similar pair of brown sandals.

Speaking of socks and sandals, I've realized lately that this combination is ideal for me, because my feet suffer a lot when I go barefoot in shoes. Which sucks really, because on a hot day I just love the feel of the open air on my feet, almost as much as I love the feel of a warm breeze across bare shoulders. But the fact is that with the exception of a few rare pairs (usually flip-flops), my feet generally react to being sockless with rubbing, burning, swelling, and finally blisters. In fact as I type this I'm sitting here after having gone sockless in flats today, my feet covered with Band-Aids from the blisters generated by a short lunchtime walk. So I'm officially in the market for a few pairs of thinner ankle socks for days like today, when it's far too warm for tights.

Cardigan, dress: All Saints
Harness: Audra Jean
Skirt: a gift from Mom
Tights: MP, via Sock Dreams
Sandals: John Fluevog

Gratuitous cute dog photo: Georgie achieving new heights of laziness.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quite Orange

Thanks for all your great comments on Friday's post about customer service. A few people pointed out the shameful way that customers sometimes treat the people who work in service industries, and I think this is an important point. Certainly no one has the right to demand quality service when they walk in the door ready to abuse the first person who comes forward to help them. And just as customers should exercise their right to complain about poor quality service, so should they also make the effort to reward exemplary service, because only by doing both can we as consumers influence the industry standards.

Anyway, it's undoubtedly healthy to leave an extra generous tip or fill a comment card with praise once in a while, lest our lives be filled with nothing but negative interaction all the time. So let's hear a few positive stories if you have some to share. I'll start by sharing that I once filled in a glowingly positive customer satisfaction survey after I took my car in for a tune-up, and the heartfelt, personal thank you email I later received from the person who helped me made me realize just how infrequently that kind of feedback is ever heard.

Right, so here's my outfit. This dress always manages to look red in the photos, but I assure you it is quite orange, as is the pattern on the socks. It being a little cooler that day, I wanted to cover my legs but not be too warm, so I chose long socks rather than tights. From the front you can just see the gap between the bottom of my dress and the top of the socks, but from the back the longer cardigan covered everything; this made the thigh high socks look a bit more subtle and less schoolgirlish.

Cardigan: Max Studio
Scarf: Banana Republic
Dress: Orla Keily
Sandals: John Fluevog

Friday, October 8, 2010

Customer Service

This morning on my way to work I stopped to fill up my tank, and I noticed for the umpteenth time that approximately half the pumps at the gas station were out of order. And I started to think about how the quality of service in general continues to decline in many industries, and how pissed off I am about it, and what I intend to do about it.

The gas station scenario is a common one for me; either the pumps are down or the receipt printer is out of paper or the credit card reader is malfunctioning or there's no fluid to clean your windshield with. Remember when the attendants used to come out and clean your windshield for you? Now they can't even be bothered to fill up the fucking bucket a couple of times a day. And yet the prices still continue to creep up, including the extra fees they tack on for using a credit card, which many people don't even realize they're paying.

Gas stations are merely one example, but I think they're a reasonable indicator of the decline in customer service at large. And the fact is, we do not have to put up with this. There are many entities out there competing for our money, and starting today I'm going to be a lot more vigilant about where and how I spend mine. These are some of the things that are important to me:
  • I expect a business to be neat and tidy, well stocked, and fully functioning when I arrive. Any place of business that does not consistently meet this standard will never get my business again. I can overlook a rare occurrence, but if every other time I show up I can't get what I need or the place is a disorganized mess, it's over. If it means going out of my way or paying slightly more somewhere else, I'm prepared to do so. 

  • Poor customer service will not be tolerated, ever. I don't care how good the food is at a restaurant, how cute the clothes are, or how low the airfare is, if I'm treated poorly I will never patronise that business again. I expect salespeople and servers to be courteous, to do their utmost to make me happy if there's a problem, and to thank me for my business. I expect returns to be made under reasonable circumstances and not to be unfairly charged for things that are not my fault.

  • I expect people to be knowledgeable about the things they sell or the services they offer. If I hop into a cab, I expect the driver to know how to get to my destination without me having to explain it in detail, or they're not getting a tip. If I'm shopping for wine, I expect the merchant to be able to give me some recommendations based on my tastes, or else I'll shop somewhere else. 

  • If I feel I've been treated unfairly I resolve to write to the company or contact a manager and at the very least communicate my dissatisfaction. I have let far too many things slide in the past and have not taken companies to task when I really should have. Hardly anyone ever takes the time to really follow up on a complaint, but it can make a huge difference if the right person hears your message. Someday I should tell you the story of the shameful way my financial institution treated me when I had my wallet stolen in Rome; I still kick myself for not writing that letter as soon as I got back. The bitch blamed ME for getting pickpocketed, if you can believe it.

  • Wherever possible I want to try to deal with smaller, independent businesses where the customer still has influence. With our Etsy shop, Mark and I work really hard to make sure each and every person is taken care of, and I want to do business with other like-minded people. And sure, just because a business is large doesn't mean they don't care about the customer, but I think among smaller businesses you're more likely to find a level of commitment to customer satisfaction that can be difficult to maintain as a business grows. From here on out the smaller boutiques, the sellers on Etsy, and of course the businesses that have treated me well in the past will be my first stop when I'm shopping for something.
What are your thoughts about the quality of customer service in general? Have you ever written to a company with a complaint, and what was the outcome? What have you put up with that you wish you hadn't? In what other ways can we take a stand and demand more for our money?

Today's outfit:
Dress: thrifted
Skirt: unknown
Belt: Urban Outfitters
Shoes: Camper

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Potential for Injury

I just loved all these soft layers together, and adding the beat up cowboy boots gave it a touch of ruggedness that kept it from looking too dainty for my taste.

As you can probably tell, the temperatures were still soaring when I wore this outfit, and the lightweight fabrics and loose, flowy shapes were just perfect for the weather. I should point out that my work attire is sometimes misleading, because while we've had a nice long stretch of beautiful weather in San Francisco, I work in South San Francisco, which is a completely different city and has in my opinion the worst weather in the entire Bay Area. So when I'm at work shivering in the gale-force blowing fog, Mark is often sweating at home while he toils away making leather goods. On this day the two cities' weather happened to converge, and I was lucky enough to be prepared.

Tunic, skirt: Anthropologie
Tank: American Eagle
Vest: Forever 21
Boots: vintage Morgan

In other news, I was completely fascinated watching this video of a pair of John Fluevogs being created. But  geez, who knew that shoemaking had such potential for injury? The fingers held perilously close to the grinding wheel and belt sander, the cutting tool pulled forcefully towards the abdomen and crotch, the open flame with some sort of plasticky substance melting on it -- all I can say is, I hope our dear friend Mr. Fluevog has really good worker's comp insurance.